Court appointed special advocate (CASA) volunteers are sworn officers of the court charged with advocating for the best interests of child victims of abuse and neglect. They ensure that the child – the person with the most to gain or lose and typically the least power in a care and protection court proceeding – has a powerful voice. A voice in critical decisions that will impact his or her life immediately and long into the future.
What do CASA volunteers do?
Court Appointed Special Advocates change the lives of abused children by helping them move from foster care to a safe, stable home where they have a chance for a brighter future, by making sure they are getting the services and support they need while in foster care. As the eyes and ears of the judge, our advocates provide the court with a full picture of a child’s life and recommend what they think is best for him or her.
The CASA volunteer also provides a voice outside of court. CASA volunteers are key members of the family support team which includes the child, family members, family and foster care providers and other professionals involved with the child.
CASA volunteers are charged with four general responsibilities:
Objectively examine the circumstances of the child’s life including relevant history, environment, relationships and the needs of the child. The CASA volunteer collects information through interviews, observing the child’s interactions with others, and reviewing all records and documents. Most critically, the advocate develops a relationship with the child that facilitates the child sharing her needs, fears and hopes with the advocate.
After assessing the needs of the child and family, the CASA volunteer helps to identify resources and services for the child and family that will meet the child’s needs and help the child find a permanent, loving home. This includes collaboration with the family support team members to make sure the appropriate services are being provided that move the family toward the best permanency plan.
The CASA volunteer gives the child a voice in all critical decisions affecting her well-being while in foster care. This is accomplished by speaking up for the child in court and in the community, as well as preparing the child to speak up for herself. The advocate provides formal written and oral reports to the judge at court proceedings.
The CASA volunteer monitors progress on the case to ensure that court orders are carried out and that the child and family receive mandated assistance and interventions. The advocate monitors the child’s well-being and the family’s progress in reaching the goals of the case plan, while working to expedite the proceedings.
Who can be a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)?
Court Appointed Special Advocates are ordinary people making an extraordinary impact on our most vulnerable children.
You don’t have to be a lawyer, social worker or a parent to be an effective advocate. No specific experience or education is required- just a desire to help and a willingness to speak up.
An effective CASA volunteer is a mature, reliable adult who can be objective under difficult circumstances, relate to people from all backgrounds, work cooperatively with a team and advocate for the best interest of the child. What are the qualifications to be a CASA volunteer?
- Be 21 years of age or older
- Have a high school diploma or GED
- Be an open-minded, caring citizen who shares Voices’ vision of a community where every child is nurtured and supported
- Submit to a background check
- Have regular access to technology
- Dedicate 10-12 hours each month to gathering information, team meetings, court hearings, etc…
- Have flexibility to attend court hearings and meetings occasionally scheduled during the day
CASA Information Sessions
Upcoming sessions are being held Thursday, September 7 at 5:30 pm and Thursday, September 21 at 5:30 pm at Voices' County office: 105 S. Central Ave. (63105)